Self Confidence – Context Matters
We begin with a story about Sam, global senior vice president of a ten-thousand person company. For the first time in his 30+ year career, Sam is addressing a room full of professional women, eighty of them. Sam, like most executives, works in in a male dominated industry. With the exception of the event manager standing by the exit door, Sam was now the only man in the room. Sam has spoken to larger audiences, presented to Wall Street wolves, and remained cool calm and collected when facing angry customers. But on this day, with this group – of women – he stood with wobbly knees, sweating bullets, and dry-mouthed. Before facing the crowd, he sought lots of assurance from women and advice about what to say. He practiced and practiced and practiced. But he was not his usual confident self. Somehow he found the courage to stand up on those wobbly legs and speak.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to face our fears. Self confidence is contextual.
Meet Maggie and Yourself
She was once a little girl who crawled on all fours. Then one day, her courage led the way as she put one wobbling leg forward as she swayed back and forth, to and fro. Then she lifted the other leg, and with as much effort, stepped it forward. She had no reason to think, or to believe she would succeed at this task called walking. After all, she had never done it before. But she probably wasn’t even thinking about walking or trying to believe she could walk. SHE JUST DID IT. EVERYONE admired her courage and her fortitude. They applauded.
When Maggie grew up she went to work in The Corporation and she played The Game on the Field of Business. It was a sport invented by men for men, until things changed, and women started to play, but the rules were still governed by men. Most of her competitors were men. The judges, the critics and the award givers, were also men.
They understood the rules better than she did. They also had a support network of other men who were there for each when one of them fell. Maggie didn’t have a support network. She, a once self confident baby girl, who had the courage to walk, to fall down, to stand up and walk again, lacked self confidence on this field.
What’s a Girl, like Maggie (and you) To Do?
Your 5 Step Instant Courage Building Program
Dear grown-up baby girl,
Step 1: Before you enter that scary conference room or sit on that speaker panel, recall a memory of your courageous self. Maybe you sang at your best friend’s wedding in front of 200 strangers. Maybe you skied down the black diamond trail.
Step 2: Hold her hand before you enter the current scary situation.
Step 3: Hook up an imaginary IV line and let that liquid courage from the self of your most-courageous-memory make it’s way from her to you in the here and now. Let if flow. Notice where it lands in your body. It’s you. It’s your courage that you feel.
Step 4: Hear a sound track in your head. Using your first name, say “Maggie, you are and feel courageous. You know that you have the courage to do this and the confidence to do it well.”
Step 5: Let it be true in every cell and every wired connection of your brain.